Schools in Dundalk and across Louth are closing their doors today - a day earlier than expected as heavy snowfall overnight prompted Met Éireann to bring forward the issuing of of a Status Red Weather warning.
Forecasters have been predicted all week that a Status Red weather warning was likely to be put in place by Thursday, a move which would force the Department of Education to take the decision to shut all schools.
A Status Orange warning had previously been in place on Tuesday and was expected to remain so on Wednesday, leaving schools in a position to make their own choice of whether to open the doors or not.
However, Met Éireann's decision to issue the most severe weather warning early this morning does not mean the decision has now been taken out of schools hands.
Tweeting this morning, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said, "Decisions on school closures will be made locally by each school individually depending on the circumstances in their area, this includes schools in the red areas. We will continue to monitor the situation and update further throughout the day."
But, it is expected all schools will close in the interests of safety. De La Salle, St Vincent's, St Louis and Colaiste ChuChulainn have already announced closures.
Bus Eireann and Halpenny Coaches, amongst others, have already announced no services will run today to serve schools or other services.
The Status Red effects Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow and will be in place from 5am this morning until 3pm on Thursday.
Heavy snowfall in some place has led to an accumulation of between 5cm and 10cm of snow in places. Snow showers will continue to fall today and again tonight. Forecasters say the total snow accumulation may rise to 25cm.
Due to Status Red weather alert in Co Louth, St Vincent’s Secondary School will be closed today.— St Vincent's School (@stvdundalk) February 28, 2018
School transport services not operating in red alert areas inc Dublin,Kildare, Louth, Meath & Wicklow & where conditions dictate #stormemma— Bus Eireann (@Buseireann) February 28, 2018
This article was updated at 7.30am.